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Who’s Inside Your Computer?

Who’s Inside Your Computer? - The Beacon


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By: Jason

Who’s Inside Your Computer?

We continue to hear from consumers who have received calls claiming that there is something wrong with their computer and the person on the other end offers to help. The consumer receives a call from someone they don’t know (often with a foreign accent but not always). The caller tells the consumer that there is something wrong with their computer. The caller may claim to be with Microsoft or McAfee or some other well-known tech company and usually claims that they received an error message from the computer. The caller asks the consumer to follow their instructions to allow them into the computer remotely to fix the problem. If the consumer lets them inside the computer they may even show the consumer screens on the computer that supposedly prove there was a problem and how they are fixing it.

Here is the problem. The caller is not actually from a software or computer security company, instead they are seeking personal or banking information inside the computer. Once inside the computer they can show the consumer anything they want to because what the consumer is seeing is actually on the caller’s computer not the consumer’s. Not only may the caller seek banking information, passwords, and personal information; they may also try to install malicious software or try to use the consumer’s computer as a zombie computer for other cyber-attacks. This malicious activity may not be apparent or detectable to the consumer.

These supposed tech support people call randomly trying to find someone who will let them into the computer. We often hear from people who don’t have a computer hooked to the internet or who don’t have a computer at all and yet they receive these calls. Keep in mind unless you have set up a monitoring service for your computer or you have sought tech support for your computer you should not expect to receive legitimate tech support calls.

If you receive one of these calls, hang up. If you have any reportable information from the call such as a phone number from your caller ID, you can report that to the FTC at 1-877-382-4357. Sometimes the caller ID is blocked or the number is faked but not always. If you have reason to believe that someone has hacked your computer, you can run security software to check for malware or you may consider taking it to a local technician to have it cleaned.

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Jason was the Manager of Dispute Resolution Services with the BBB and primary handled consumer complaints. He also assisted consumers with business inquiries. He was a regular contributor to the blog.